Customer Service Tip of the Week

Customer Service Experts have a Presence - 7/20/21


Standouts in the sports, entertainment, business, and political fields are sometimes said to have “an air about them.”  Unfortunately, that definition of air sometimes is perceived as an air of superiority or an air of condescension or something that doesn’t always have the most positive connotations. Well, the greats in Read more

It’s Not You, It’s Them - 7/13/21


George Costanza - from the Seinfeld television sitcom - broke up with someone he was dating and told her “It’s not you, it’s me.”  It’s a famous line, and I’ve heard it used many times in humor, but I have a customer service twist on that comedic line. It’s not Read more

Use Your Customer Service Freedoms - 7/6/21


We’re only a couple days past Independence Day here in the United States.  So it may be a good time for us in the customer service world to think about our freedoms, to think about what we have the liberties to do, to reinforce how this all plays out Read more

Who are Your Best Customers? - 6/29/21


A major medical supply company called Medline is in the process of being acquired.  It is an organization that has grown by leaps and bounds, particularly over the last decade.  It is currently a family-owned business, and the member of that family that serves as President of the organization Read more

Why Did They Walk Away? - 6/22/21


Granted, the drive-thru line was long, but Cynthia thought it would move pretty quickly.  After almost 10 minutes of only moving up one spot, she drove away. Benny was on hold, but the system didn’t tell him for how long.  Then he looked at his watch; 5 minutes later he Read more

And YOU get a Thanks, and YOU get a Thanks… - 6/15/21


Yes, Oprah Winfrey gets her first shout-out in a CSS Customer Service Tip of the Week!  She’s famous for many things – one of which was giving out presents to everybody in her audiences.  She would happily proclaim:  And YOU get a gift, and YOU get a gift, and Read more

It’s Right to Note “That’s Not Right” - 6/8/21


TJ was doing some construction work for the homeowner, and he noticed something unusual about the paint texture on the storm door that he was about to install.  The homeowner had purchased the door, and when TJ was getting ready to install it, he noticed that the door had Read more

Respond to Negativity in Kind, or Respond Kindly - 6/1/21


An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.  It seems like that’s what makes the world go ‘round nowadays.  You yell at me, and I yell at you.  Then you yell louder, and I yell louder.  And all that cacophony just pushes us further and further apart. In Read more

Tailor to the Type - 5/25/21


Every customer is different.  We need to look at each customer as unique, because they feel that they and their situation are unique. But even when you have that individual focus, there are a few basic philosophies of great customer service that apply to certain customer types: If they’re upset, listen. If Read more

The Problem with “No Problem” - 5/18/21


The man asked for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage, and she said: That’s not a problem! The customer walks into the bike shop wearing a cast and notes that the new bike he just bought had brakes that failed and that need to get fixed. The employee responds:  No problem. The Read more

Build Your Confidence with the 5 P’s – 4/22/14 TOW

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Sometimes a person’s anxiety, worry, indecision, passivity, inefficiency, and lack of ownership can all have the same source – lack of confidence. It could be the student unwilling to raise his hand in class; we could be discussing the leader making decisions simply by not making decisions. Maybe it’s the adult talking with twelve friends and family members about something to gain the 100% certainty that will never exist. Maybe it’s the employee who won’t take on a responsibility because they’re afraid of doing the wrong thing.

Years ago, we shared a Tip of the Week (TOW) that talked about how to build confidence, and what we’re doing today is expanding that list to build your confidence further. To build your confidence, here are the 5 P’s of knowledge-building. You need to “Know Your:”

  • Processes – Learn your organization’s information flows and process flows so you can know HOW things occur and be able to explain the HOW of actions to customers.
  • Policies – Understand the company’s policies and the reasons for them to be able to explain the WHY behind the WHAT to customers.
  • Products – Become well aware of your organization’s products and services so you can easily match the customer’s issue/need/goal to your company’s solution.
  • People – Know who does what in your organization so you’re aware of whom to contact to address a need; also, get to know your customers – ask questions, look at their purchase/participation/service history so you can tailor your response to what makes them and their situation unique.
  • Purpose – Understand your purpose. We’ll address this more in next week’s TOW, but think of Purpose like this – why do you do what you do? Beyond the tasks, meetings, notes, communications, paperwork – what is the greater good in what you do? If you know the ultimate goal of your role, you can be more confident, particularly when what you are being asked to do might not be “within the job description.”

Use this knowledge-based approach to becoming more confident in interactions with customers.

Build confidence by building knowledge.


The Great Manager I Never Met – 4/15/14 TOW

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I was fortunate to have been asked to speak at a finance association conference this past month on the topic of “Customer Service in the Tax Office.” I know that’s not the most exciting title, but it was a fun group!

I stayed at the hotel where the conference was held and had several interactions with the hotel staff while there:

  • I talked with two staff at the front desk during my stay; they each greeted me as I entered the lobby on two separate occasions, addressed my needs, proactively shared where the events were taking place in the hotel as I was checking in, engaged me in some pleasant chit-chat about the weather, etc. It was simple, pleasant, proactive, and done in personable way.
  • Since I arrived late in the day, I decided to order room service, and the room service person on the phone was upbeat, made recommendations to me in a confident manner in response to my questions, confirmed my order, and told me by when the meal would be delivered.
  • The room service delivery person delivered the meal a little early. He was professional in dress/demeanor, pleasant to chat with, patient with me, and closed positively.
  • As I entered the elevator from my floor to check-out, a housekeeper exited the elevator. She smiled, placed her hand on the side of the door to keep it open, and asked me to what floor I was going. She then pressed the button for me, smiled, thanked me, and moved on.

There was no individual “WOW” moment, but the high performing consistency made it a collective WOW experience!

Now, I never met the hotel manager; I’m not sure I ever even spoke with a supervisor-level individual. But I can tell they have a great manager. In the Moments of Truth with these five employees, every interaction was positive, was pleasant, was professional. Every interaction had a little that went beyond the basic expectations.

You don’t get that purely by being lucky. You develop efficient processes. You hire the right people, train them well, don’t overly script them, and motivate them to keep them happy and pleasant.

Sometimes you can identify great managers without ever seeing them.


A Flurry of Best Practices – 4/8/14 TOW

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In less than ten minutes, I saw a flurry of customer service best practices. They were all performed by someone named Linda, and here’s what happened…

I was at the Miami airport for the first time in years, not remembering much about how to get to ground transportation, let alone how to find the shuttle service the hotel recommended.

When I located the shuttle kiosk outside the terminal, I experienced and witnessed Linda – the dispatcher – weaving some wonderful customer service.

As she was helping a man and his young son when I walked up, she engaged me with a smile and asked where I was heading. She responded “Great! I’ll help you as soon as I’m done helping this gentleman.” Linda asked the father if she could give his son a piece of candy; the dad confirmed that was fine; she gave the boy a piece of wrapped candy, the child opened the wrapper, and he quickly dropped the candy on the ground.

“Please don’t eat it,” Linda said. “I don’t want you to eat that, and I don’t want you to be sad. Here’s another one.” She gave the child a new piece and picked up the one that dropped.

As she helped me, she confirmed the details, mentioned the price, and wrote it on my receipt along with the shuttle number. She told me the driver would take care of my luggage, told me it would be a five minute wait and a 25 minute drive, and completed the scheduling. She said that I could pay the driver, and she noted how his credit card machine would look. She set every expectation, and Linda twice updated me on my shuttle’s status – even though it was only a five minute wait.

While I waited, another shuttle drove up; she asked the driver where he’d been since she hadn’t seen him in a while – she was concerned about his health. As we were waiting, she engaged a policeman riding a Segway for chit-chat and did the same with a nearby Taxi dispatcher. She also had time to toss some bread on the ground for some small birds, and when she caught me watching her feed them, she smiled with a sheepish grin.

I was around her a total of 8-10 minutes, and in that short time it was clear that Linda was personable, proactive, pleasant, and professional. She managed my expectations, conveyed caring for co-workers and others, took personal interest in a small child, and was productive the entire time.

Sometimes a few minutes can result in a flurry of customer service best practices.

Let’s all learn some lessons from Linda.